Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Multi-Tasking - a Fine Line in a Story

Thanksgiving at the lake - not a bad place to give thanks.  It's not often that I get to the Qu'Appelle Valley these days but it never disappoints.  So there I was in the valley on a beautiful fall day that was still hanging tightly to the edges of summer.  And like usual, the conversation ranged in a multitude of directions.  So when exercise seemed to be on everyone's mind, my SIL mentioned that the  stationary bicycle could drive a multitasker like her over the edge.  That is if you pedaled with nothing else but the non-moving bicycle to hold your attention.  So we got her hooked up with the idea of an ipod audio book and laughed over the image of a multitasker driven over the edge with only one task to focus on.  But that comment hit pretty close to home and my current story.
I too am a multitasker.  Even a dog walk isn't just a walk for the dog, it's exercise for me with a short jog worked in the middle and time to think, plan, resolve any number of things while watching for the inevitable trouble spots; other dogs and squirrels. 

So it dawned on me.  The solution to what was wrong with the latest story.  If you're thinking how did I know something was wrong?  Well the flow that had me anxious to get to the keyboard every day had trickled away - the urge was gone.  Temporarily I know, disconcerting none the less.  But my SIL's comment had me thinking. 

Was it possible to focus on too many things even in literature?  Had I multitasked my protagonists into corner stage?

It was a completely unexpected revelation and it was true.  I was enjoying the secondaries so much they slipped into the limelight a moment longer than planned and the story lost focus.  So it's time to dance those characters into a quieter role in the sidelines. 

The good news, at least for me, since I came to that conclusion I can hear my hero in the background beginning to direct his destiny.  A destiny that got lost for a moment in other characters taking the stage when it was supposed to be for him alone.  

And I have to say that a walk on the hill with nothing but nature, lake, hills and beautiful warm fall air, I didn't do anything but enjoy the walk and it was blissful.  Sometimes multitasking is just more unnecessary noise.  And sometimes it's necessary, or is it? 

Multitasking - bane or necessity? 

Dress me slowly, for I am in a great rush
—Napoleon Bonaparte

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